“Johnson still believes he can lawfully render the Benn Act null and void”

“Senior government source”, to Robert Peston

September 25, 2019

Claim

It was reported several times that Boris Johnson had found a way to bypass the Benn Act and avoid a Brexit extension if he did not reach a deal with the EU. The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg quoted a “senior No 10 source” saying on 4 October: “The government will comply with the Benn Act, which only imposes a very specific narrow duty concerning Parliament’s letter requesting a delay.” The Times reported on 19 October that to avoid an extension Johnson would “empty chair” the next EU summit and refuse to appoint a new European Commissioner.

Facts

On 19 October Boris Johnson sent a letter to the EU requesting a delay according to the terms of the Benn Act.

Verdict

The Boris Johnson government’s claim (or belief) turned out to be false. This case again illustrates the way in which political journalists uncritically quote unnamed sources.

PreviousNext